Saturday, July 30, 2005

Tel Aviv Afternoon

Today we went to the Rubin museum in Tel Aviv. The museum is the renovated house of the former artist Rubin. It was very nice, and very air-conditioned. Something you don't get too often in this country.
Rubin was formerly a painter in Europe. It was interesting because in Europe he used a variety of dark colors and shades. However, in 'Eretz Yisrael' he only used a few colors, brown, yellow, black, and gray. In Europe his paintings had many shadows and dark images, however, in Eretz Yisrael there were "no shadows, because even the shadows are illuminated." His paintings were bright and colorful and pleasing to see.I enjoyed hearing about how the painter came to Israel and that everything was familiar to him even though he had never been here. I'm sure most Jews on pilgrimage to here also feel that way to an extent.
What was funny was that several times he mentioned that he almost never paints portraits of himself. I don't know if he was lying or if this museum just had an unusual amount of self-portraits, but there were definitely a few self-portraits of Rubin. If you look at the picture above you'll notice the second portrait on the bottom. That too is Rubin.

Following the museum we went to Neve Tzedek to walk around. It was a little bit empty but was interesting - I was given the opportunity to see what used to be the nicest part of Tel Aviv, and then the delapidated part of Tel Aviv, now existing as the artsy district of Israel's metropolitan city.
We walked through the Bat Sheva dance school located close to the center of Neve Tzedek in order to get to a restaurant called Suzanne's. It has a pleasing atmosphere and attractive food.

Next we went to Montanna's. Montanna's is an ice cream parlor that was established about half a century ago on edge of Tel Aviv. It's still standing, almost exactly as it was, still claiming to have an American atmosphere with American style ice cream, and still maintained by the same two old men.

Close to Montanna's is the newly built-up board-walk on the old port. No one was there today, because it's Saturday, but tonight Liat, Carmit, Jon and I will probably go back there for its night life.

Friday, July 29, 2005


I decided that 1) I need to live near the beach when I get out of school, and 2) it should be in Israel.
I always assummed that everyone was drawn to the sand and the waves, but I think it's more of a pleasurable novelty to the majority rather than a necessity. I've been here since July 12th and have been to the beach everyday but two of them maybe. I don't even really know if I took two days off. There's something about it. I'm not sure if it's the sound or the sun, or even if it's just everything encompassed into one. But it's one of those places where you can essentially do nothing and feel like you are doing everything. That's compared to sitting inside and watching a movie or just making idle conversation. I guess it's essentially the same thing at the beach, it's just that there's some kind of inherent value to doing those mundane activities at the beach compared to in a living room in front of the TV. Anyway, it was the cause of some argument the past few days.

Tonight we went to Sharon beach for a cook-out (again). It was pretty crowded and I took some pictures.

(click pictures to enlarge)

Monday, July 25, 2005

On Target

This is a fair assessment:

While Sharon has surprised his critics, it is not conceivable that he would leave Israel more vulnerable than he found it when he took office. He will be adamant that Israel get what it has been promised: "secure and recognized borders." Who made that promise? The international community did, in UN Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967 - the only agreed basis for negotiations between Israel and all its Arab neighbors. Resolution 242 also calls on Israel to relinquish land occupied in the 1967 war - but not to withdraw from all territories since, by definition, that would leave Israel without secure borders. (Townhall)

See also Defensible Borders for a Lasting Peace (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

As for now, I have to keep checking the El Al site to see if Jon's flight is going to continue its predictable pattern of delay (if you've flown from Chicago you know what I mean).

Sunday, July 24, 2005


So I know this color thing is redundant now, and there really isn't a story behind this post, but I thought I would share anyway.
It's very common to see big tour groups in Israel, especially in Jerusalem -specifically in the Old City. Another common characteristic is that the tour company tends to make the participants wear something conspicuous so the tour guides have an easy time finding their tourists. It is usually a bright-colored hat, a noticiable t-shirt, or something else a little embarrassing, but nothing particularly noteworthy. This time however, when I went to the Old City, I smirked at a herd of Asian tourists (as if that doesn't make them stand out in the first place) wearing big cowboy hats. Big purple cowboy hats. At first I was reluctant to take pictures, but then convinced myself that nothing could be as embarrassing as dressing like these people in the middle of Jerusalem.

(click pictures to enlarge)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


If you've been to Jerusalem in the past few weeks, then you've noticed something that resembles road construction. There's orange everywhere. Orange ribbons, orange shirts, orange bracelets, and then to top it off - an annoying slogan that says "Jews don't expel Jews" in orange writing. I guess none of it is actually that hard to notice but one thing that does seem to be sparse are the blue and white ribbons that are a little more popular in my neighborhood.

Now about that slogan. If they really want to convince other people (me) that disengagement is bad, then they should focus on more convincing slogans like: "Don't reward terrorists with the Gaza strip" or "Giving up Gaza is Giving up Security" or whatever, you get the point. But even those reasons for not disengaging are weak. First, staying in Gaza creates a demographic, economic, and security nightmare. But then there are those who worry about unilateral withdrawal compared to the typically more favorable withdrawal as an outcome of negotiations. It's always funny to me that people think that we are sending the wrong message by not negotiating with them. That we are giving in to their brutality. But if you think about it, negotiating with them has the same effect. When we negotiate with the Arabs we always ask for peace in exchange for land. Isn't that the same thing? If you stop killing us then we will give you stuff? At least this time we are calling the shots.

Anyway, I was in the Old City last night. While approaching the Kotel I noticed a tent surrounded by an unusual amount of orange.

(click pictures to enlarge)

Then I looked to my right and there was some more orange.

As I kept walking I heard someone speaking loudly in English on their cell phone. I continued towards the Kotel, and to my left I found the facilitator of this orange affair. An American dressed completely in orange. It looked funny at the time so I took some pictures.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Went to the marina in Herzliya with my parents tonight. Nice place to go if you want to stop to have a drink, eat a nice meal outside, or sit on the swinging benches.


A few days ago my parents and I went to Netanya. Nothing special or outrageous about that. The only unique thing about it was that the bombing outside the shopping mall had been the night before. In a way, my family is still a bunch of tourists staying here. On
one hand, we were eager to go see something that is still very peculiar to us - a bombing of something so common as a mall. It's weird to think that one of Israel's most famous characteristics is its terrorist attacks by Pals. Obviously that's what drew us to the site. And at the same time it's what drives everyone else away from this country. By no means do we want the bombings to happen. It's more like something that is just so specific to Israel, in an awful way, and we wanted to see it up close.

In this specific bombing there were three members from three generations of the same family mutilated by the bombing. A child, a parent, and a grandparent. It's funny how in the eyes of a Palestinian, this is how they exert their desperation - devastating a family that was on its way to a mall.

Netanya is no stranger to these types of bombings, and while we were sitting down to eat at a restaurant on top of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the waittress confided in us that she just can't concentrate on work or pull herself together emotionally when this stuff happens - especially when she thought all this violence was coming to an end after the last 5 years of fear.

Although the bombing is awful because of the deaths it caused that day, it is even more painful because of its breaking of a faux truce. Even if it was a *faux truce, it was still better than what existed before, and the last thing we need here are more terrorist bombings when Israel is devoting all its human resources towards evacuating the stubborn and selfish Gaza settlers.

*Five months ago, Israel reached a ceasefire agreement with PA President Abbas, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. Despite the agreement, the terrorist groups have attempted a constant stream of attacks (most thwarted by Israeli security, and under-reported by the media).

Here are some pictures from the Netanya bombing site.
Note how quickly the authorities cleaned up the site. In just a matter of hours.

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Beach Pictures

Here are some pictures from last night in Tel Aviv and from today at Beach 9 in Herzliya.

Tel Aviv Night

Tonight was fun. I was given permission to drive to Tel Aviv. It's kind of a milestone for me - I'm stepping into adulthood now, I can drive.... on the highway.... in Israel... alone....

It's been over a week since I had seen Liat before this. I picked her up from her hotel and we walked to the Tayelet. It was a great night. We found a nice cafe/bar to sit at on the beach and to our left were some enormous and colorful fireworks. It definitely made up for Rhythm and Booms at the terrace. I still haven't found out why exactly there were fireworks. The only holiday I know of is French independence day.... and I have a feeling that is not what they were celebrating in Yaffo.
Oh yeah, we also got ice cream at the Beer Sheva ice cream place. If you're in the mood for some cold sweetness, then Beer Sheva ice cream is the stuff to get.

Pictures soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Some questions for Israelis:

Why do Israelis clap when the plane lands?

Why aren't there more blue/white ribbons

Why doesn't it matter to Israelis whether you say 'thank you' or 'you're welcome' first?

When there are three lanes on a backed up highway, why do Israelis drive in between the lanes
causing traffic to be even more backed up?


I know conversational Hebrew was just brought back to life in the past hundred years....but considering all the different cultures and dialects that were brought to Israel by immigration how is there already a standard Israeli accent

Some questions for the 'Pals.'

Why malls

Sunday, July 10, 2005

In a Day

I'll be there in a day.

PS: My fan just broke....good timing.


Today Jon and I got back from a small lake in Wisconsin. It was nice - we were able to come in direct contact with 'lake people' and enjoy some 'lake humor.' Unless you've experienced this people consumed by lake culture first hand, then you have no idea what I'm talking about.
Imagine rural Wisconsin. Now imagine people not from rural Wisconsin. Now stick those people who aren't from rural Wisconsin and put them in rural Wisconsin. You get a kind of wannabe Hamptons life style - a kind of stylish bleached blonde hair, the outdoor bar/marina, the uncountable hours under the sun in front of the summer house. It really is a scene taken straight out of Born Rich
or Laguna Beach (which by the way, you can now celebrate for the DVD is now on sale...)
We started our night off last night with a drinking competition.
This isn't one of those fun drinking games like beer pong or flip cup. This game is that one where you split into teams and see which team can finish a cube of beer the fastest. Of course, there was the big fat guy who could guzzle down 8 beers in 25 minutes. But then there was also the two or three of us (myself included) who could only finish about 3 drinks in 45 minutes. Either way, I was satisfied not being sick.
That was the beginning of the evening, the end was punctuated with us standing on one another's shoulders and changing the letters of a 100 ft sign that originally said "Great Margaritas
" on one side, and something else on the other side, to simply "Great Anal." It was some fun lake times.
And while all of this was going on, I pondered with Jon about the lake life in rural Wisconsin compared to where I'll be in a matter of hours. Instead of a small lake culture situated in the center of acres upon acres of land occupied by a couple hundred million semi-conscious people, I'm going to be stuck in the middle of a tiny country, inhabited by a few million stressed out, hyper-involved people whose biggest lake is known as a sea and is too salty and hot to consider entertainment.
Anyway, I leave tomorrow night at 2:00 am from Madison on my way to Chicago, and then meet my parents at 7:50am in Tel Aviv. As always, it will be a long, excrutiatingly monotonous 20 hours of traveling, followed by possibly one of my best years.